Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Write Friends

I currently have a house guest who I had never met until she showed up at the airport. Now, before you freak out, you have to know that I've actually known her for about four years. We'd just never met face to face. See, she lives in Tasmania and I, obviously, don't. We met online as critique partners but quickly became friends. And the friendship stuck. Getting to meet her has been such a cool experience.

Reminds me of when I was a teenager and...well, first let me give you some background. I was a geek. A nerd. And a comic book junkie. Spiderman was my drug of choice. My one and only BFF was a Batman devotee. Every Saturday we would ride our bikes up to the 94th St. mall and get our fix at Geppy's Comics.

At some point, I got a wild hair and decided to write a fan letter. (Lots of people did.) Not only did they print the letter in the back of comic in the fan letter section, but they included my complete address. (They did this to everyone. I doubt they do it today.)

Now, you must understand that A. a girl reading comics was a rarity, B. Kristen is always a girl's name, C. the almost entirely male comic book audience was smart enough to do the math.

Letters began pouring in. Letters from other comic book geeks. Other male comic book geeks. There were times when my mother had to go to the post office to pick up our mail because it would not fit into the mailbox. It came in bucket loads. This continued until the last few letters trickled away while I was in college.

A few of the guys I wrote back to and developed friendships with. There was one in Milton Keynes, England. A US Army soldier in Germany. A very sweet guy in Buffalo, NY. They sent clothes, comics, mix tapes, drawings, photos, diamond jewelry, came to visit me...and asked me to marry them. One of them also stood me up for prom, but I digress.

Anyway, that was my experience with pen pals. Did you have any as a kid? Or has the age of email changed all that?


  1. I didn't actually everr get around to reading Spiderman. I was all about X-Men and Archie and pals...not that they're anything at all alike. Lol. I think I also dabbled in a few of the really old Hulk one's, but that was my limit. I was more of a tree climber and general havoc wreaker back then, I couldn't usually be bothered to hold still long enough to pick a comic let alone read one. Lol.

  2. OmG...that is the best pen pal story ever.

    Tell your guest I said hello. She is one of my favorites.

  3. NICE--I never had a pen pal that lasted that long...we did some for our french class, but it tapered off...

  4. OMG, that is a fascinating story, Kristen!!!

    Never had a pen pal, but I did have a subscription to Wonder Woman. ;-)

    And now I subscribe to two X-Men comics and Ultimate Fantastic Four, so I guess it hasn't entirely worn off.

    And you'll be glad to know, I'm sure, that I frequently remind myself that with great power comes great responsibility...

    Cara (the geek)

  5. That story cracked me up, K. (Say hi to your houseguest for me. I miss her!)

    I had penpals when I was younger, but like Rhonda, they never really lasted long. Usually they were girls I'd met at dance competitions and we competed in the solo category against one another and bonded backstage in the warm-up area and decided to correspond. But that would generally only last a year or so before it petered out.

    My 6th grade teacher's son was teaching English in China, so he thought it would be a good opportunity for his students to practice their English by writing to his mom's class. (I should note that we were like 11 and 12 and they were all 18 or older...it was a college English class.)

    Anyway, that was really cool until the Tianamen Square massacre happened. None of us ever got a letter back after that. To this day, I don't know whether my pen pal was living or whether she'd been killed that fateful day. That was her university, unfortunately. :(

    It was really sad. And it killed my desire to write to pen pals ever again.

  6. Kristen, that is the coolest story ever! I never has pen pals like that. Only the 4th grade one that the school made you write too. That is The Best!

  7. I had one pen pal. It was a class project, we began a pen pal program and exchanged names and addresses with a school in Sweden. My pal and I kept in touch for a couple of years, but as we grew up, the letters grew fewer and fewer.

    Your story is awesome. I want to hear more about receiving jewelry and marriage proposals...

  8. I think it may have been comic books that had listings for pen pals. I wrote someone in Canada first. We sent frequent letters and then started sending tapes to each other. Then she started sending me these homemade booklets (I think they were called "slam" books) where you answered questions and sent it to the next person. When it was full, that person had to send it back to the originator of it and they got to see where all it had gone. Many of them had a "do you want more pen pals" question. Those that said yes were subject to get new pen pals. At one time I had quite a few pen pals but only a handful of "close" pals. One was a huge fan of Elvis and shortly after he died I received an unfinished email from her (literally stopped mid-sentence)and never heard from her again. One I kept in touch with until after I married. After that I only received the annual Christmas card for a few years. My ex and I moved around a lot so I think she was unable to keep track of me. And I missed that contact. We'd never met face-to-face but I felt like I knew her well. I think that's one of the reasons that I like getting to know people online because you have more of an opportunity to know them, as opposed to making judgments based on appearances or other things.

    Anyway, fun post and it brought up some good memories too. Enjoy your guest! :)

  9. Okay seriously the best penpal story EVER. If they could see you now!

    Yeah, I have none of that. Two attempts at penpals, both failed. Miserably.